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The sum of $40,000 was appropriated by the act of June 20, 1878 (20 Stat. L., 222), and $40,490 by the act of March 3, 1879 (20 Stat. L. 388); but the act of June 16, 1880 (21 Stat. L., 269), providing for the printing, binding and distributing of 10,000 copies was the first to sanction the actual distribution of the rebellion records. This act did not in any way alter the scope of the work. The “preparation for publication" consisted as before of compiling the matter, putting it in type, and printing thirty copies of each volume. In all, eventy-nine of these preliminary volumes were printed and, as previously stated, the Union reports of operations, letters received and sent and telegrams received and sent, were all in separate volumes, the matter in each being arranged chronologically. The Confederate records were similarly arranged; and up to 1879 there appears to have been no other plan of publication decided upon, for the Secretary of War in his annual report of November 19, 1878, recommended legislation that would have circulated extensively as the "Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies" these volumes, which in later years became known as "preliminary prints." No use has ever been made of them except as printer's copy in the compilation of the later and regular official publication, although the work of compiling and putting them in type continued until a short time prior to the creation of the Board of Publication in 1889. A complete set of this preliminary and obsolete edition is in the library of the War Department.
After he had been nearly three years in charge of the work, Major Scott, recognizing the necessity of a methodical arrangement of the matter so that the general reader could find in one volume a connected account of any military event, drew up a further plan of publication, and on August 23, 1880, this project, which has since been printed in the preface to each volume of the several series and never departed from, was approved by Secretary Ramsey. It was as follows:
The first series will embrace the formal reports, both Union and Confederate, of the first seizures of United States property in the Southern States, and of all military operations in the field, with the correspondence, orders, and returns relating specially thereto, and, as proposed, is to be accompanied by an Atlas.
In this series the reports will be arranged according to the campaigns and several theaters of operations (in the chronological order of events), and the Union reports of any event will, as a rule, be immediately followed by the Confederate accounts. The correspondence, &c., not embraced in the "reports" proper will follow (first Union and next Confederate) in chronological order.
The second series will contain the correspondence, orders, reports, and returns, Union and Confederate, relating to prisoners of war, and (so far as the military authorities were concerned) to State or political prisoners.
The third series will contain the correspondence, orders, reports, and returns of the Union authorities (embracing their correspondence with the Confederate officials) not relating specially to the subjects of the first and second series. It will set forth the annual and special reports of the Secretary of War, of the General-in-Chief, and of the chiefs of the several staff corps and departments; the calls for troops, and the
The fourth series will exhibit the correspondence, orders, reports, and returns of the Confederate authorities, similar to that indicated for the Union officials, as of the third series, but excluding the correspondence between the Union and Confederate authorities given in that series.
The publication of the records under this plan was at once begun, Volume I of Series I being distributed in July, 1881.
From the outset of the work there was a great deficiency of Confederate records. During the last year of the war the reports rendered by Confederate officers were generally meager and incomplete. Toward the close of hostilities many papers of great historical value were intentionally destroyed by their holders, and a still greater number was concealed. Others were burned with public buildings or were carried off by relic hunters, and in various ways the official Confederate files were depleted.
In view of the distrust with which the Southern peopie for a while naturally regarded the movements made by the Government with a view to the procurement of the records of the Confederacy, it is not surprising that the efforts of the Department to complete its Confederate files met at first with slight success or assistance. However, Marcus J. Wright, formerly a brigadier-general in the Confederate Army, was appointed July 1, 1878, agent for the collection of Confederate archives, and in this capacity he continued employed until the completion of the work. Through his efforts and tact the attitude of the Southern people toward the compilation became more cordial, and, as their confidence increased, records were brought out from their places of concealment and forwarded to the Department as gifts or deposited as loans. Purchases of collections of Confederate records have been made as follows:
The policy of purchasing records was soon abandoned, owing to the great expenditure it would necessitate and the unfair discrimination which such purchases would involve in respect to those who had gratuitously delivered up valuable collections to the Department; but, notwithstanding this change of policy, the war papers of many prominent Confederate as well as Union officers were subsequently donated to the Government. Among the notable collections in the possession of the War Department may be mentioned the records of the commands of the Confederate Generals R. E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, G. T. Beauregard, James Longstreet, Stephen D. Lee, Sterling Price, Leonidas Polk, E. Kirby Smith, J. B. Hood, James R. Chalmers,
As the fact of these donations became generally known and confience in the impartiality of the publication increased, numerous and constantly increasing contributions from all parts of the country followed. The former President of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis, during his lifetime, and his widow after his death, afforded the Government access to his papers relating to the late war, and from täis source were obtained copies of archives of the greatest historical value.
As the magnitude of the task that had been undertaken became better appreciated and larger means were provided for its prosecution, other former Confederate officers were appointed to assist in the compilation of the Confederate archives, to represent the Confederate interests and to assure impartiality. Among these were Maj. Gens. Cadmus M. Wilcox, Charles W. Field, L. L. Lomax and Henry Heth, Col. E. J. Harvie and Maj. Jed. Hotchkiss, chief topographer of the Army of Northern Virginia.
At an early date a question arose as to the admissibility of papers prepared after the close of the war. Several requests were made by former officers, whose duty it had been to make reports of certain events, but whose reports, if made, could not be found, for permission to prepare and submit reports in lieu of the missing ones for publication. In October, 1876, George H. Gordon, formerly brigadiergeneral. United States Volunteers, submitted certain documents for file as a part of the official records. Secretary J. D. Cameron rejected a printed narrative thus submitted on the ground that, under the act of Congress approved June 23, 1874, only official documents or authenticated copies thereof could be embraced in the publication. Upon being informed of this action General Gordon stated that from information received by him he understood that reports of military operations in the late war, compiled long afterward, had been filed as official documents for publication. Secretary Cameron replied that search based upon General Gordon's statement failed to disclose that any reports additional to those made within a reasonable time subsequent to the occurrences which they narrate had been incorporated or filed with such reports. Similar applications were made from time to time by other persons and were denied.
On June 19, 1882, a bill was introduced in Congress (House bill 6528, Forty-seventh Congress, first session) authorizing the Secretary of War to-
receive, for the period of one year from the passage of this act, from the late commanding officers of the United States troops serving in the war of the rebellion, or from the senior officer now living who participated in the actions or in the campaigns of said troops, reports of their respective commands; also from those officers who wish to correct errors in their original reports, or who can furnish additional information by more complete and detailed reports. The reports received in pursuance
of this act shall be arranged and prepared, under the direction of the Secretary of War, for publication in a supplemental volume to series one of the history of the war now being prepared and published.
In its report to Congress upon this bill, December 7, 1882, the War Department invited attention to an inclosed report from LieutenantColonel Scott, which pointed out the confusion and controversies to which such legislation would inevitably lead. In his report LieutenantColonel Scott remarked:
The experience of this office has demonstrated the utter unreliability of recollections of the war. I have had a Union colonel apply for permission to retract a statement never made in his report of Ball's Bluff. A general officer has complained that his report of Shiloh was garbled, but when shown his original report he acknowledged that it was correctly printed. Again, a Confederate major-general denied ever having made a report that he saw noted in our catalogue, and on inspection it was found to be in his own handwriting, and he so acknowledged. As another instance I would mention that an attempt to ascertain who commanded a certain Confederate brigade in the Gettysburg campaign has developed two claimants for the position.
The bill was not enacted, and the Department, regarding this as an indorsement of its course, continued its previous policy of excluding post-bellum matter.
By the act of July 31, 1886 (24 Stat. L., 195), it was directed that-The evidence taken by the court-martial on the trial of Fitz John Porter, and the arguments made before the court by counsel for the prosecution and defense, together with the report thereon by Judge Holt to President Lincoln and any reply thereto filed with the President before approval of sentence, shall be printed in connection with matter already printed concerning the proceedings of said court-martial.
In accordance with this legislation the record of the Fitz John Porter trial was compiled and published as a supplement to Volume XII, Part II, of the Official Records.
As a rule, where the publication records the dismissal of officers for alleged cowardice or other misconduct and the officers were afterward reinstated, or where it contains grave charges upon which the officers implicated were subsequently tried and acquitted or otherwise vindicated, foot-notes have been entered inviting attention to the supplementary record.
Lieutenant-Colonel Scott died March 5, 1887. At his death twentyfive books (Volumes I to XVIII) only had been issued, but he had compiled a large amount of matter for forthcoming volumes; consequently his name as compiler was retained in all the books up to and including Volume XXXVI, although his successors had added largely to his compilation from new material found after his demise. Col. H. M. Lazelle, Twenty-third United States Infantry, was assigned to duty as the successor of Lieutenant-Colonel Scott, May 7, 1887.
In 1888 a controversy arose over the insertion in the appendix to Volume XX, Part II, of a list of certain officers and men of the Fif
newspaper, verified in the Department by comparison with musterrolls. A Congressional investigation followed, and the investigating committee reported, in part, that
It was the intention of the committee to recommend some legislation to prevent hereafter the publication of unofficial matter in the Rebellion Records. But the Committee on Appropriations has provided legislation in the pending sundry civil Fil whereby the official reports of the war of the rebellion shall be prepared under *e supervision of the Secretary of War.
Accordingly, it was provided in the act of March 2, 1889 (25 Stat. L., 970, 971)
That hereafter the preparation and publication of said records shall be conducted, der the Secretary of War, by a board of three persons, one of whom shall be an other of the Army, to be selected by the Secretary of War, and two civilian experts, * be appointed by the Secretary of War, the compensation for said civilian experts to be fixed by the Secretary of War and to be paid from this appropriation; and the whole work of preparation and publication shall be completed within five years.
Maj. (now Brig. Gen. and Judge-Advocate-General) George B. Davis, Judge-Advocate, United States Army, was appointed military member and president of the board thus authorized, and Leslie J. Perry and Joseph W. Kirkley were appointed as the civilian member, in July, 1889.
Shortly after the appointment of the Board of Publication efforts looking to the appointment of an officer of the late Confederate armies as a member of the board culminated in a formal request to that effect, which was embodied in a letter to the Secretary of War signed by twenty-seven United States Senators. In his reply Secretary Proctor
The act of March 2, 1889, which created the Board of Publication, required that body to be composed of “an officer of the Army * and two civilian experts.” The board had already been constituted under that act before the receipt of your communication.
Maj. George B. Davis, of the Judge-Advocate-General's Department, is the miliitary member of the board. One of the two civilian experts, Mr. Joseph W. Kirkley, was promoted from the position of chief clerk of the division of returns and battle reports of the Adjutant-General's Office. He has been identified with the undertaking from its inception, and I think it is not too much to say that his expert services in connection with the rapid publication of the work are exceedingly important. The third member, Mr. Leslie J. Perry, served as an enlisted man throughout the entire period of the war. His recommendations as to character, capacity and ability were of the highest order, and having been previously engaged in newspaper work he seemed peculiarly available for a position on the board, of which he has proved himself an efficient member.
In considering the constitution of the board I found that three out of five Army officers on duty, the agent for the collection of the Confederate records, and over onehalf of the employés of the office were from the South. These facts seemed to
*The original list, which in 1888 was not known to be in existence, was subsequently found on file in the Department, and is printed in Series I, Vol. LII, Part I,